If you want the tl;dr version, scroll down at the bottom for the full spreadsheet summary screenshot ;)
All you need to make a guess, just like I do, is at the bottom of that page here on the wiki => Warframes
Not a single information on this page is sourced by datamining. Please do not consider these as "official release dates".
A. How to guesstimate a Prime being released?
The rules are simple :
0. "Any frame is eligible to be primed" Every warframe should have its prime version at some point in the future. Unless they have a sudden change of plan or something else entirely, we cannot know what they prepare for the future of Warframe. Or maybe watching Steve's twitch stream every Sunday might give us a hint.
1. Standard warframes are released in the M-F-M-F order. The only exceptions being :
- During the closed beta when all existing warframes at that time were released on the short span of four months, people will often agree that everything during closed beta (prior to U7.0) is considered to be released only when the open beta arrived.
- When Chinese warframes were released (Wukong and Nezha). These warframes were originaly designed by Warframe China and thus had a separate release schedule from the original warframes.
(Even though this does not seem to be particularly relevant to this topic, it will come in handy later. Also people often confuse standard release order and prime release order so I feel this point is usually a good reminder.)
1b. Contrary to their standard counterpart, Prime warframes are released in the M-M-F-F order. And to this day there are no exceptions to that. (cf. 1st image on the left)
2. "we will likely give priority to older frames" Prime warframes are released in the same order as their standard counterparts were. Now this is where guesswork begins. This rule has been bypassed more than once in the past :
- (Frost Prime and Nyx Prime were released before most other despite being the latest ones. But their standard versions were released during the closed beta.)
- Nova Prime was released before Banshee Prime, Saryn Prime and Trinity Prime.
- Valkyr Prime was released before Banshee Prime, but they were only swapped with each other and thus Banshee Prime was only delayed by a single release (but delayed by a whole year if we count Nova Prime too). Most likely because Valkyr was a favorite amongst the community and her Prime Access would have made a very good Christmas gift.
- I also have the feeling Mirage Prime and Zephyr Prime will be swapped for the same reason Valkyr and Banshee did. Time will tell... sooner or later, time will tell.
Also it seems the designers are the ones with the final word on this, either they feel like designing a prime or they feel like doing it later.
But in the global scheme of things, the others were all released in the same order as their standard counterpart (after taking point 1b. into consideration).
3. Prime warframes are released around 14 weeks (98 days) after the previous one. And this is where estimation comes into play. There is no definite nor official statement as to this duration between prime releases. One can assume it is tied to the 90 days affinity/credits booster from the Prime Access, so that -
rich-generous- players can pay some sort of "premium subscription" every three months. Though the same boosters can be bought ingame with the platinum obtained from the PA. Also nobody has to buy these on the first day and they'll last well beyond the duration of the PA if bought later. Yet if we look at the latest releases, that's what the numbers suggest.
3b. Prime warframes are released on Tuesdays. This has become a trend for the last ten releases and is most likely to stay that way.
3c. Prime warframes are released one week after the end of the previous Prime Access. Everytime you see "[...] Prime Access Ends Soon" on the warframe official website, the forum or ingame, it means a new prime will arrive exactly one week after the end of the Prime Access. One exception happened so far though :
- Oberon Prime got released the same day Banshee's Prime Access ended.
B. How to guesstimate a Prime being vaulted?
This one is easier, fewer rules :0. The Prime Vault is NOT the Orokin Vaults. It seems easy, yet sometimes people confuse them. The Orokin Vaults is where you find Corrupted Mods in Orokin Derelict missions, the Prime Vault is where they hide Primes away from your last minute farm.
1. Every time a new Prime is released, another prime must leave for the Prime Vault. (Check out points 3, 3b and 3c from the previous title to find out when exactly) The reasons for this are various, DE acknowledged their intent to make fewer items to farm at any point in time and find the ones you want faster (among the ones that are available), but we all know there is Grofit to be made in this maneuver too.
1b. When a Prime goes to the vault, all the content from the same Prime Access goes with it. Released together, vaulted together.
2. The older Primes are the first ones to go to the Prime Vault. Just take the Prime Access page on this wiki and read them in the exact same order. There has been no exception to this day.
2b. Primes are available to farm for a little under two years (~22.5 months) before entering the Vault. Since new Primes are released at the exact same rate as old ones are vaulted, every new Prime will see six other Primes released (and six other vaulted) before being vaulted himself when the seventh is released.
3. Weapons that are not affiliated to any Prime Access will stay forever? This still needs confirmation, but it seem logical that it stays that way. Paris Prime, Braton Prime, Burston Prime, Orthos Prime and so on, those are likely to serve the purpose of easy targets for the newbie's first primes.
C. How to guesstimate a Prime being released out of the Prime Vault?
Welcome to unexplored territories. Things are hard to predict here since there has only been three openings and things have already changed since the first opening.
0. Excalibur Prime is out of reach. No matter what they said, this princess is in another vault. And the key to this one is in Sheldon Carter's desk drawer. Just kidding... it's probably in Steve's.1. The Prime Vault will open twice a year. These openings happen around the summer and Chrismas vacations. During July and December.
1b. The Prime Vault will stay open for four weeks (28 days). Maybe next time will be five?
1c. The Prime Vault will also open on a Tuesday and close on a Tuesday. They must love this day for whatever reason in Canada. Or maybe they just hate Mondays.
2. When the Prime Vault is open, only a small subset of its content is made available again. We don't know yet how limited this "subset" is meant to be. It used to be only one warframe and its weapons at first in 2015 and then in December 2016 two warframes came out with their four weapons. What will happen in December 2017 will definitely tell us something new. Either there'll be three warframes with six weapons or only two but Frost Prime won't be at the party.
2b. The oldest vaulted primes seem to be released first. FIFO not LIFO.
2c. Then they skip one at every other vault opening. So that both vault openings in the same year does not contain the same Primes.
3. The Prime accessories made available seem to depend on the community's cravings. Most likely made by surveying the whole forum and twitch chat.
And that's pretty much all we know about the Prime Vault openings as of today.
tl;dr Here's the uncut spreadsheet screenshot if you want a quick bookmark :
Just keep in mind these are all guesstimates, nothing is gonna stay true for long on this one. Error margins are roughly plus or minus one week.
Whew, what a burst of inspiration, oh deer, it's moose o'clock already.
Thanks for reading!